When I created Trips By Lance a few years ago it was an answer to a question. The question wasn’t too specific so the answer was even less so. After returning home from visiting England in the spring of 2012 we created a long-term goal of moving to the United Kingdom. As a responsible member of Generation X who is married with a child I knew I couldn’t just up and move. I needed a career plan. Trips By Lance wouldn’t necessarily be the answer, but it was a start. And before a destination can be reached, the journey has to be started.
Some people can just pick up and move to another country. That’s not me. In fact, when we started discussing that plan in June 2012 I felt my “agreement” to consider the move was just a token response. How could I, the traditional career newspaper guy, possibly up and move to England and find a job that makes sense?
They don’t even write in the same English as us Americans. Heaven forbid I’d have to learn new editing and writing styles. I was scared of pursuing the possibilities.
So the roundabout answer to the question was create Trips By Lance as a trip-planning business. That morphed into the blog it’s known as today, and what was a source of joy and something I was passionate about from the start. Then in summer 2014 I took on other freelance assignments and things went downhill from there. I think fear returned, this time as it related to the realization that maybe this Trips By Lance thing wouldn’t exactly be the ticket.
Roughly three years after returning from Europe with the desire to relocate there and just more than two years after seeing this site become a travel blog, I find myself wondering what happened.
What happened to the passion, the drive, the goals?
There isn’t one specific answer, but there are several ideas.
I lost my edge.
It’s as good a start as any. Of course it’s probably crazy, right? As if I’m Cougar from the movie “Top Gun” when after the scare from the MiG he loses his edge and turns in his wings.
But wait a minute.
We don’t have to be fighter pilots or elite athletes to lose an edge, become complacent and suddenly have no fire. That happened to me somewhere along the way.
I was at one time a competitive athlete. When I was at my best I ran with no fear.
I once read somewhere that soldiers operate most effectively when they’ve already accepted death. They no longer wait on it to find them. Instead, they operate effectively because they know their day is coming.
With that lack of fear they become true warriors and work together with their team, fighting for an ultimate goal of survival, even if they don’t really believe it’s possible.
No matter the task, when fear of failure is removed effectiveness often is the result. Maybe I’ve feared failure. More likely, I’ve feared going down the wrong path, wasting too much time in the direction and — like a large ship — take too long to turn the thing around.
The old athlete in me is really saddened by the new reality.
When I started Trips By Lance as a blog I didn’t have a direction. The task of figuring out what kind of job I could do while living remotely was just wild and vague enough to have me going wild and chasing every direction. If one decision turned out to be bad I stopped and tried a new one. I decided to attend TBEX in Toronto, where I met some really cool like-minded people.
I didn’t have goals of writing X number of posts per week, sharing X number of blog posts per day, networking here, doing a Twitter chat there. I just sat out every day to do at least one thing to further the mission.
In fact, I asked myself everyday what one thing would be that day’s task. Often, it would become five or six things I excitedly did.
Somewhere along the way I decided on the bright idea to get focused. Everyone said that to have a successful site you must find a niche. I was already on board with that assessment. I’m a family travel blogger. But I’ve realized that niche is too limiting to me. I’ve met some wonderful family travel bloggers, many of whom I consider trusted friends. But my needed “edge” and contrarian temperament don’t align too well with theme parks and cruises.
Before I knew it I found myself losing contacts with some of my non-family travel writing friends, while also pushing ahead in a new career with freelance work that I sometimes question and a lack of anything substantial on this blog in months. I’m not sure what kind of focus that is, but it’s not the kind I want.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that for this blog to be something more meaningful than just a letter to my friends there needs to be a real business focus. I’ve learned some basic SEO tools and social media methods. Truth be told, writing this type of blog post is the opposite of what I should be doing here. It furthers no mission other than my own sanity.
Just yesterday it would have bothered me to write the above headline, Rediscovering Passion in Life. It’s the first thing that came to mind and I’m pretty sure there are no SEO qualities in it. But if there is one thing I’ve mastered well in life it’s that sometimes MY way is THE way.
While trying to create what I hope is considered a trusted travel media platform, I lost the passion. Maybe part of it came in October when I received a health diagnosis that shook me. I was already watching my father suffer through the effects of a stroke and knowing those are my genes. I’ve been a life-long distance runner and blessed with excellent cardio health. I’m 38, not too old but not exactly young enough to be indifferent about my health.
While training for a marathon last summer I began noticing I was out of breath in weird situations. So when I went for my annual physical in September I told my doctor about it. She listened to my heart and noticed something, so she sent me for an echocardiogram. And we discovered I was born with bicuspid aortic valve. Feel free to Google it, but basically I have an enlarged aorta and am no longer allowed to be a distance runner.
I’ve struggled, very hard. I’ve wanted to blog about that darkness since I learned of this diagnosis. But I just haven’t been able to find the words, and really still don’t feel like going there.
Could there be a solution …
You could probably say I’ve been lost in the wilderness. But finally … FINALLY … I find myself feeling like there is daylight in front.
I have some ideas, the types that are best kept on an internal simmer for now. I have an idea for a book that also relates to a minor twist on the direction of this blog. I do hope to get this space back on track as a resource for travel inspiration for families like mine, people who don’t live for that one annual vacation to Disney World or the beach.
No offense to either — we’ll be at the beach and Disneyland this summer — but there is more to travel than a vacation from life.
That used to be my mantra. It’s time to rediscover that life I don’t desire a vacation from, but one that is a daily vacation.